Next big power savings: LED backlights


ElledbacklightconnectorEvery opportunity there is to squeeze some power savings out of components is one that should be taken. Over the past two years or so, the focus was on processors that use less juice; that’s sure to continue with the upcoming chipsets, but another area is picking up the pace as well: LED backlighting.

LED lighting is still a growing area, but you’ll find these little power misers in non-computing mainstream devices such as flashlights these days. DigiTimes has some scoopage from Asustek indicating that we’re on the cusp of an LED backlighting revolution in our notebooks and portable computers as well; not a bad direction in my opinion. According to the article, "The average power consumption for widescreen notebooks such as 12.1-, 13.3- and 14.1-inch models that feature LED as the backlighting source is 1-2W lower than that of the same-size notebooks using cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) as the lighting source….with the reduction of power consumption by 1W, the battery life of notebooks will be expanded by an extra 30-45 minutes, he added."

That one to two watts might not sound like much, but I know that my UMPC averages around 10 to 12 watts of power usage when I’m judicious; that means a 10% increase in battery life just by using lower power backlighting. On a small device like the Intel-based Q1 that averages around 2.5 hours of runtime, we’re still only adding about 15 extra minutes, but it’s a start. I know that Steve has previously written a must-read on UMPC power requirements; curious to hear his thoughts on this topic.

Don’t forget that there’s a few LED backlight computers out there now: the new Toshiba R400 comes to mind immediately; can anyone think of others?


Steve Paine

In the light of your battery test results, its clear that you have the LED (280nits) screen in the Q1P.
I wasn’t aware of this. Its good news and a great advantage.


Steve Paine


Yes LED backlighting will be a big advantage. Arguably more important than reducing CPU power as under normal use (browsing etc) the CPU and chipset don’t do much work. The good thing is that for UMPCs, this tech is coming earlier than for notebooks.

Raon Vega, Kohjinsha SA1, SOny UX, P1610, Q1b, Q1P-SSD (not Q1P), LG C1, V700 are examples that have LED backlighting.

Unfortunately, battery tech seems to have been slowed down due to the SOny battery recall and there seems to be more focus on safety rather than engergy density at the moment. Li-poly batteries might become more common in 2007 but they don’t bring any capacity advantages.

I don’t see the life of a UMPC extending much past 3 hours via Intel and 4 hours with VIA this year for sub-kilo devices.


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